Top 32 Play-by-Play: Formula Drift Rd 1 Streets of Long Beach
The twelfth season of Formula DRIFT kicked off this past weekend with Round 1: Streets of Long Beach. Always an exciting event, not just because it's the start of the year - but also because the tight, high-speed course leaves no room for mistakes. The start of the 2015 Formula Drift championship saw some new names and many old ones, including the only back-to-back two year champion, Tanner Foust, returning for a partial year of competition. Did you miss the livestream and are wondering how the battles went down? Catch up here at DrivingLine's Top 32 Formula Drift Play-by-Play before Round 2: Road Atlanta May 8-9.
Fast forward to the Ford Top 16 or Nitto Final 4.
Forrest Wang Vs. Matt Coffman
Wang Lead: Top qualifier Wang looked to be on top during qualifying, but didn't bring his A-Game to the first round. He bobbled in the first touch-and-go zone (a required but non-scoring area designed to enhance the drifting line) after initiation, and underdog Coffman was in the midst of the run of his life.
Coffman Lead: Coffman was best at initiation and was able to keep Wang at bay convincingly. Win for Coffman and the 2015 Formula Drift season is off to a shocking start.
Daigo Saito Vs. Robbie Nishida
Nishida Lead: This one was short lived as the two tangled mid drift and Saito’s car was too injured to continue. Nishida advances to Top 16.
Matt Field Vs. Kenneth Moen
Field Lead: Strong on the go light, Field was wider and faster than Moen, who was shallow and lacked rotation in the middle section under the bridge, losing contact in the final hairpin.
Moen Lead: Off well enough, Moen did well in the early stages but Field was right there and his superior proximity won the day.
Daijiro Yoshihara Vs. Kyle Mohan
Yoshihara Lead: Yoshihara and his 962 horsepower V8-swapped BRZ was smooth, fast, and effective. Mohan, perhaps outgunned in his 775 horse rotary-powered RX-8, fell back early and missed the last touch-and-go zone in order to close the gap.
Mohan Lead: Initiated aggressively and came within inches of the wall in the first clipping zone but Yoshihara matched him stride for stride. Yoshihara on to the next.
Nate Hamilton Vs. Vaughn Gittin Jr.
Gittin Lead: Gittin was butter smooth and smoky fast on his run while Hamilton lost angle after the first touch-and-go zone and could not keep pace.
Hamilton Lead: Hamilton was just not wide enough and not fast enough to shake Gittin who had broken out the glue and attached his Mustang to the side of Hamilton’s S13. Gittin advances.
Patrick Goodin Vs. Charles Ng
Goodin Lead: This was a law of averages showdown where both drivers had bobbles and shakes. A stalemate to this point.
Ng Lead: Ng got good rotation and really laid some smoke but looped real wide in the middle, under the bridge zone and almost lost it. Goodin was not close enough to make an impression. The mistake-filled duel led to long deliberation by the judges, ending in a One More Time (OMT).
Goodin Lead: Smooth at initiation, Goodin could have gone wider into the first section but was smooth the rest of the way. Ng also didn’t take the first set of turns wide enough, and he closed up in the mid section, sacrificing a little angle to gain proximity.
Ng Lead: Ng was strong at initiation and snappy in his transitions. Goodin kept pace and was a touch shallow in the mid portion of the circuit. A highly contested showdown, Ng advances 2-OMT.
Tanner Foust Vs. Justin Pawlak
Pawlak Lead: Pawlak (JTP) took care of his business with a smooth, smoky run. Foust, back after a five-year hiatus, was shallow at initiation and short in his first move to the touch-and-go zone. He lost angle and seemed to over-correct, slapping the wall in the first outer clip zone. After a five-minute competition timeout he could not make his lead run. Unfortunately Foust’s return was measured in feet not rounds.
Odi Bakchis Vs. Conrad Grunewald
Bakchis Lead: Driving his Ark/Nitto Tires Genesis in its only U.S. appearance, Bakchis came out swinging with big angle, a bit too big as he rubbed the wall in the first clipping zone. Bakchis bobbled but kept the show rolling. Grunewald was not close until the wall bang at which point he closed in.
Grunewald Lead: Neither driver went wide enough and neither did enough to sway the judges, resulting in a 1-1-1 OMT.
Bakchis Lead: After another strong initiation and drama-free drift through the first set of corners Bakchis did well and held a small advantage after his lead run.
Grunewald Lead: Grunewald was doing his thing, hanging it out, and puffing smoke which made the fact that Bakchis looked like his shadow all the more impressive. This may have been the best pairing of the day and Bakchis looks to be the best chaser on the track. Bakchis moves on.
Chris Forsberg Vs. Jeff Jones
Forsberg Lead: The reigning champ, Forsberg was smooth but a touch conservative. Jones was shallow early and lacked flash.
Jones Lead: Jones went wide and had a good transition between the first set and the mid under the bridge set of turns but lacked angle. Forsberg did not take it wide either but kept it tight, his 370 tucked in Jones’ smoke trail. Not the best from either driver, Chris “The Force” Forsberg advances 3-0.
Dave Briggs Vs. Patrick Mondaunt
Briggs Lead: Puffing smoke, wheeling wide, and producing good angle, Briggs laid down a nice lead run. Mondaunt was in the neighborhood and closed a little at the hairpin.
Mondaunt Lead: After an early, hard initiation, Mondaunt was wide, fast, and snappy in transition. Briggs was late to initiate and was playing catch up. He dove in late just before the hairpin to gain proximity, but failed to follow the leader in doing so. Too many mistakes for Briggs, so Mondaunt advances.
Ryan Tuerck Vs. Dean Kearney
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck painted the tires at the first touch and go and pulled more paint transfer duty on the outer wall as his FR-S was snappy and happy. Kearney was relatively close but couldn’t match Tuerck’s angle.
Kearney Lead: Made a correction early and didn’t take the Viper wide enough. Kearney was shallow through the long sweeper which was right in sight of the judges. Tuerck made a minor correction but was shadow close to Kearney. Tuerck wins 3-0.
Dan Savage Vs. Kristaps Bluss
Savage Leads: Savage made a good enough lead pass but there was contact in the hairpin where Bluss’ BMW broke an axle. Savage moves on.
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Masashi Yokoi
Aasbo Lead: This was a stellar dual. Aasbo illustrated the difference between brushing the wall and hitting it as he unleashed the biggest angle in the round of 32. Yokoi had great proximity early but went a bit shallow in the mid section before stalling out on the hairpin.
Yokoi Lead: Yokoi hit the tires in the first touch-and-go section and failed to make the outer clip. Aasbo was overzealous and tagged Yokoi in the sweeper. On the strength of the first run, 3-0 Aasbo.
Geoff Stoneback Vs. Ken Gushi
Stoneback Lead: Went wall to wall after an aggressive initiation, was a little shallow in the sweeper and into the hairpin. Gushi was tight and calculated a great example of how to chase.
Gushi Lead: As good and consistent as the first run was, this lap still managed to be mistake filled. So OMT.
Stoneback Lead: Not as deep or as smooth as his first run, Stoneback was good at the end of the course. Gushi initiated late but tucked nicely into the outer zone and had good proximity during the run.
Gushi Lead: Off clean, Gushi nailed the transitions and was fast in the sweeper, maybe too fast because he went way wide in the hairpin and was passed by Stoneback. Judged legal pass, Stoneback advances 3-0.
Alec Hohnadell Vs. Charles Denofa
Hohnadell Lead: This one was lost on Friday, when Hohnadell called his one and only competition time out of the weekend. His car was now having fuel pickup problems. It sputtered off the line and stopped. Denofa, who had a new engine installed Friday night, welcomed the free shakedown pass as he advanced.
Tyler McQuarrie Vs. Marc Landreville
McQuarrie Lead: Simply put, McQuarrie was wider, smokier, and faster. Landreville was shallow and hit the inner clip cone on the hairpin.
Ford Top 16
Robbie Nishida Vs. Matt Coffman
Nishida Lead: Nishida did not sweep out to the tires in the touch-and-go zone this time, which allowed him to open up a gap. Perhaps too eager to close it up, Coffman was out of position after the bridge sweeper and over rotated (which is rally-speak for spinout) in the hairpin.
Coffman Lead: The upstart from the Northwest initiated early and made a wide, fast, and loud pass. Unfortunately, the earlier spin had sealed his fate.
Matt Field Vs. Daijiro Yoshihara
Field Lead: Field let loose some big-time smoke and showed some of the biggest angle on the day. Yoshihara didn’t initiate very well and it seemed he hit the rumble strips from the Grand Prix track, which upset his car. He made a substantial course correction and bobbled at the hairpin… a tough day at the office.
Yoshihara Lead: Better initiation and faster through the early part of the course, Yoshihara made a nice run. Field was shadowy close early on and carried impressive proximity through the hairpin. Field advances easily 3-0.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. Vs. Charles Ng
Gittin Lead: Gittin was gettin’ it done going wall to wall in the first section with tremendous angle. Ng was behind all the way through the run and he initiated too early for the hairpin putting him farther behind the 8-ball.
Ng Lead: Knowing he had to go for it, Ng tapped the tires in the touch-and-go zone and slapped the first wall then straightened out of drift in the hairpin. Gittin kept his cool navigating the shrapnel from Ng’s GT-R-powered 370Z, even as its rear bash bars flopped to the pavement. 3-0 advancement for Gittin.
Justin Pawlak Vs. Odi Bakchis
Pawlak Lead: JTP ran wide and fast and made no noteworthy miscues. A good lead run makes for a good chase and Bakchis was cheetah-like in his chasing at Long Beach. His ability to predict transitions and move his nose across the tail of the lead car was uncanny.
Bakchis Lead: Both drivers really hung it out and we felt sorry for the judges, but Bakchis’ chase won the day 3-0.
Chris Forsberg Vs. Patrick Mondaunt
Forsberg Lead: Forsberg initiated well and carried max angle into first clip but was uncharacteristically out of place and shallow for the rest of the run. Mondaunt was close early, middle, and late.
Mondaunt Lead: Mondaunt made a solid pass and Forsberg was close, but just not Forsberg close. Mondaunt marches on 3-0.
Ryan Tuerck Vs. Dan Savage
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck was on it again, whipping his Scion wide from the first touch-and-go to the first outer clip, without making contact with the wall this time around. Superior angle and superior smoke. Savage hung close, especially early.
Savage Lead: A touch wide at initiation, Savage did well to recover but a hiccup mid-run opened the door for Tuerck who made the most of Savage’s miscue. Tuerck advances 3-0.
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Geoff Stoneback
Aasbo Lead: Off quickly, Aasbo was surgically precise in his angle of attack and the transition areas between clipping points. Stoneback was off line heading into the first touch-and-go and lost contact, made up some ground late, but the writing was on the wall.
Stoneback Lead: Stoneback was fast and fluid but Aasbo chased well, keeping close enough to make the first pass result the difference in the showdown.
Tyler McQuarrie Vs. Charles Denofa
McQuarrie Lead: Neither driver hit their marks early but McQuarrie got his act together in the middle section while Denofa seemed to cut the apex to gain proximity.
Denofa Lead: Both drivers hit their marks early in the second go-round and transitioned in tandem. Result, McQuarrie - 2 OMT.
McQuarrie Lead: McQuarrie set a good pace out of the gate and Denofa struggled to keep pace.
Denofa Lead: Denofa didn’t go wide into the touch-and-go and McQuarrie pounced and stayed close dogging Denofa from start to finish. McQuarrie advances.
Nitto Great 8
Matt Field Vs. Robbie Nishida
Field Lead: There was contact as Nishida dove for position. It was ruled that Nishida was at fault, which was inconsequential as damage forced his retirement. Field moves into the Final 4.
Vaughn Gittin Jr. Vs. Odi Bakchis
Gittin Lead: Gittin picked up where he left off last round with big angle and wall-to-wall madness. Bakchis was being himself and the fact that he continued his dominant chasing was all the more impressive.
Bakchis Lead: Bakchis continued is mastery of the LBC, Gittin got gapped a little early on and failed to fill the zones trying to catch up. Bakchis moves on 3-0.
Ryan Tuerck Vs. Patrick Mondaunt
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck was another hot commodity in the late rounds at Long Beach. He was on the gas early, wide where he needed to be, and fast everywhere else. In short, he did everything right. Mondaunt was a little shallow early on but made no blaring mistakes.
Mondaunt Lead: Mondaunt flicked it hard early to initiate and linked together some solid outer zone drifts only to give it away by spinning in the hairpin. Tuerck was lucky to advance 3-0.
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Tyler McQuarrie
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo was on the limiter and killed it throughout the course, making one of the more sensational passes of the day. McQuarrie made a big correction in the second set of turns.
Nitto Final 4
Matt Field Vs. Odi Bakchis
Field Lead: Strong at initiation, Field was not as wide through the first touch-and-go point as he was earlier in the day, but his angle was off the charts. Bakchis was in chase mode and matched Field stride for stride.
Bakchis Lead: This was a mirror image run and no one was surprised this duel resulted in an OMT.
Field Lead: Field makes an aggressive first turn attempting to get a leg up on the competition, but Bakchis is matching Field like white stuck on rice.
Bakchis Lead: These two are beginning to look like twins, but then Odi scores with an extra wide second turn. Judges make the call for Bakchis to advance, 2-1.
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Ryan Tuerck
Aasbo Lead: Yet again Aasbo impressed with his wall-to-wall antics book-ended by smooth, timely transitions. Tuerck initiated a tick after Aasbo but caught up while displaying big angle.
Tuerck Lead: Tuerck was again on the angle bandwagon and shot deep into the second set of turns. Aasbo rotated hard and stayed in the smoke - another easy OMT call for the judges.
Aasbo Lead: The turning point of the event. Aasbo and Tuerck make contact in the hairpin. Aasbo assigned blame. Aasbo takes five minute competition timeout to address transmission popping out of second gear.
Tuerck Lead: On it early, going wide and furious through the first segment, Tuerck seemed to have things well in hand. Aasbo, despite shifting first to third, was close. Tuerck stalled out on the hairpin, a mere 200 feet from advancing. So with one big, zero-point foul assigned to each driver, it’s another OMT.
Tuerck could not answer bell. His FR-S was on jack stands in the pit as his crew heroically tried to swap LSDs in the allotted five-minute competition timeout. Aasbo advances to final.
Go Pro Finals
Fredric Aasbo Vs. Odi Bakchis
Aasbo Lead: Aasbo drove deep into the touch-and-go zone and wheeled his Scion wide into the first outer clip. Bakchis was in familiar formation in chase mode, but got a bit overanxious in the hairpin, tagging Aasbo mid turn.
Bakchis Lead: With no timeout, Backchis’ crew yanked off the front bumper in the staging lanes. Both cars put on a show with Aasbo so close he was under Bakchis’ smoke stream. Considering the first-run miscue, the effort was more than enough to tally the win for Fredric “The Norwegian Hammer” Aasbo.